Our Florida State postseason wrap-up continues with the running back position.
Running back was considered one of FSU’s biggest strengths coming into the 2018 season with the return of sophomore Cam Akers and senior Jacques Patrick.
Throw in redshirt freshman Khalan Laborn and it was considered a better trio than almost any other program had in college football.
Akers rushed for 1,024 yards during his freshman season in 2017 and Patrick rushed for 735. They combined for 14 touchdowns.
How did they perform in 2018?
FSU finished the 2018 season with one of the worst rushing attacks in college football, and relative to expectations this group deserved an F.
The Seminoles finished the season 129th (out of 130 teams) averaging just 2.79 yards per carry.
Akers finished the season with 706 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 4.39 yards per carry.
Patrick rushed for just 378 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry.
Laborn didn’t have a single carry after suffering a knee injury in FSU’s second game of the season against Samford. He did have one reception for 37 yards.
FSU had a streak of five consecutive seasons with a running back reaching 1,000 yards, but Akers and Patrick barely got to that mark combined this season.
It was a struggle from the first snap for the Seminoles to find any production on the ground.
Akers finished the year with just one 100-yard rushing game — 110 against Boston College — and Patrick never had more than 56 yards in any game.
But the backs aren’t completely to blame for the issues.
FSU’s offensive line was one of the worst in all of college football and the running backs were rarely given an opportunity to get more than a yard or two before they were hit.
There were too many times where a running back was hit deep in the backfield after just taking the hand-off.
Quarterback Deondre Francois’ inability to run read-option led to the running backs losing yards on quite a few carries because they were running right into a defender.
Of course, that doesn’t absolve the running backs from all of the issues.
Akers spent most of the first six games running more sideline-to-sideline instead of getting upfield as he tried to break the big play.
As a result he would lose yardage on a play where he could have gained a couple yards.
FSU coach Willie Taggart and offensive coordinator Walt Bell repeatedly said that the running backs weren’t showing enough patience and were trying to do to much.
Patrick was never going to be a good fit for the Gulf Coast Offense that Taggart brought with him, but he ran hard every chance he got.
The Seminoles clearly missed Laborn’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield when he went out and that hindered the offense some.
Akers and Patrick both made plays during the season that showed they still had the ability that led them to a combined 1,759 yards in 2017, but it was few and far between.
Akers will return next season along with Laborn — assuming he’s healthy — senior Amir Rasul, and rising sophomore Anthony Grant.
Overall, FSU’s running backs didn’t come close to living up to the hype that we bestowed upon them at the beginning of the season, but they weren’t solely to blame for the Seminoles’ lack of a run game.
It was an overall failure by the offense.